Daily Archives: April 22, 2010
President Obama challenged some of the nation’s most influential bankers on Thursday to call off their “battalions of financial industry lobbyists” and embrace a new regulatory structure meant to avert another economic crisis.
Speaking in the bankers’ backyard, at the Cooper Union in Manhattan, Mr. Obama castigated the “failure of responsibility” by Wall Street that led to the financial crisis of 2008 and pressed his case for what he called “a common-sense, reasonable, non-ideological” system of tighter regulation to prevent any recurrence.
“That may make for a good sound bite, but it’s not factually accurate,” Mr. Obama said. “It is not true. In fact, the system as it stands is what led to a series of massive, costly taxpayer bailouts. And it’s only with reform that we can we avoid a similar outcome in the future. In other words, a vote for reform is a vote to put a stop to taxpayer-funded bailouts. That’s the truth. End of story.”
He said scrupulous business leaders had no reason to resist his regulation plan. “The only people who ought to fear the kind of oversight and transparency that we’re proposing are those whose conduct will fail this scrutiny,” he said.
Though it has been struggling with an internal crisis, the worldwide Anglican Communion is still attracting positive attention.
Casting sights on possible ecumenical partnerships with the Communion are the registered Protestant Church in China and Coptic Orthodox Church.
This is mainly due to the rise of the Anglican Global South.
Representatives of both church bodies were invited to the fourth Anglican Global South summit held this week in Singapore.
The church leaders have expressed an interest in deepening their relationship with the Anglican Communion.
The Bible Studies at this Encounter have been beyond extraordinary. For three days, we have studied a portion of three chapters in Isaiah, search for God’s reason for creating Covenants. Tuesday was Isaiah 61:1-13; Wednesday was Isaiah 41:1-9 and today was Isaiah 50:4-9 with 2 Timothy 1:8-14 thrown in for good measure. There is such a feeling of unity here ”“ that’s one of the reasons the Bible Studies are so enjoyable. This is not a state of political unity where we agree on a strategy or a legislative agenda, like General Convention. This is spiritual unity. We have the same understandings of the basic words of Scripture. When one says God, the Father Almighty, or Sovereign Lord, the other knows what you are referring to. You don’t have to redefine the term or question the other person’s understanding of same. So, there is much less tension here. No one is a stranger.
Couple that with the fact that the Global South bishops and archbishops are not creating anything new. Abp. Mouneer Anis reiterated this morning that the Global South has a structure that includes a Primate’s Standing Committee and an administrative team, newly elected at this Encounter. President: Abp. John Chew of Singapore; Vice President Abp. Henry Orombi, Uganda, (who is still stranded in London); Secretary Abp. Mouneer Anis of Egypt/Middle East; Treasurer Abp. Nicholas Okoh, Nigeria; at large Abp. Stephen Than Myint Oo, Myanmar and Bishop Albert Chama, Central Africa. The Global South has a structure for their own development only. They are not leaving the Anglican Communion and they are not forming their own communion.
[Archbishop Rowan] Williams is a fifty-nine-year-old Welshman with a beautiful voice, a full white beard, and fearsome, flyaway black eyebrows that in pictures, or when he is thinking hard, can make him look like a monk out of Dostoyevsky””a resemblance that is said to please him. He wrote a book about Dostoyevsky in 2008. His manner is friendly, more professorial than priestly. He taught theology for most of the nineteen-eighties, at Cambridge and then at Oxford, where, at thirty-six, he became the youngest person ever to hold the university’s oldest academic chair. His students””some of them now the priests berating him most strongly for his reluctance to put himself, and his office, on the line for a cause he is known to support””call him the most engrossing teacher they ever had. After a few minutes, I believed it. Williams has a disarming mind, a modesty, and an appetite for conversation, a way of thinking out loud, that belies the austerity of his title. At one point, he stopped himself, saying, “Sorry, this is turning into a sermon.”
“How do you eat an elephant?” he said, with something between a chuckle and a sigh, when I asked how he hoped to hold his church together, given that the demands of Anglican women were so completely at odds with the demands of Anglican men whose own inclusion specifically involved excluding those women from episcopal service. “I suppose it’s by using as best I can the existing consultative mechanisms to create a climate””and I think that’s often the best, to create a climate,” he told me. “There’s a phrase which has struck me very much: that you can actually ruin a good cause by pushing it at the wrong moment and not allowing the process of discernment and consent to go on, and that’s part of my view.” He thought that with time, patience, and enough discussion within the Church you could temper the opposition to female bishops””despite the fact that three synods since 1994 have tried to address the issue, and the opposition remains intractable. His friends call this “Rowan’s Obama syndrome”: the persistence of a commendable but not very realistic belief in the power of reason to turn your enemies into allies.
No more letting industry help pay for developing medical guidelines. Restrictions on consulting deals. And no more pens with drug company names or other swag at conferences.
These are part of a new ethics code that dozens of leading medical groups announced Wednesday, aimed at limiting the influence that drug and device makers have over patient care.
It’s the most sweeping move ever taken by the Council of Medical Specialty Societies to curb conflict of interest ”” a growing concern as private industry bankrolls a greater share of medical research.
The council includes 32 medical societies with 650,000 members, from neurologists and obstetricians to family doctors and pediatricians. They include the American College of Physicians, the American College of Cardiology and the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the largest group of cancer specialists in the world.
“The bashing of Wall Street is something that should worry everybody,” [Michael] Bloomberg declared last week.
The Republican-turned-independent mayor’s positions have made him a lone wolf among left-leaning officials in the city. Local lawmakers and others rallied at City Hall on Tuesday in support of financial reform, some holding signs that read “Goldman Suchs.”
Bloomberg plans to attend Obama’s speech at The Cooper Union college Thursday but demurred when asked whether he was concerned about what the president would say.
Transhumanism is really a set of ideas that has developed in response to the rapid advance of biotechnology in the past 20 years (that is, technology capable of and aimed at manipulating the physical, mental and emotional condition of human beings). Conventional medicine has traditionally aimed at overcoming disorders that afflict the human condition; it has prescribed leeching, cauterizing, amputating, medicating, operating and relocating to dryer climates, all in order to facilitate health and militate against disease and degeneration; in other words, the purpose has been to heal (i.e., has been broadly therapeutic).
Technology is now making possible interventions that in addition to a therapeutic aim are intended to augment healthy human capacities. There is a gradual but steady enlargement taking place in medical ideals from simply healing to healing and enhancement. We are all too familiar with “performance enhancing drugs” in professional sports. But biotechnology promises to make possible forms of enhancement that go far beyond muscle augmentation.
Germ-line gene therapy, for example, still in its infancy, aims to genetically modify human “germ cells” (i.e., sperm and eggs) in order to introduce desirable intellectual, physical and emotional characteristics and exclude undesirable ones. Since the modifications are made to cells in the “germ line,” the traits would be heritable and passed on to subsequent generations. Drugs to improve mental function such as Ritalin and Adderall are increasingly being used by the healthy in order to enhance cognitive abilities. One study has shown that close to 7% of students at U.S. universities have used prescription stimulants for enhancement purposes.That number appears only to be increasing.
Seventy-nine percent of investors say it’s likely Goldman Sachs committed fraud – but only 39% of Americans believe the government’s investigation of Goldman is based on a legitimate concern about fraud.
CHARLIE ROSE: Goldman also says it’s wrong in law and in fact. Where’s it wrong in law?
DAVID BOIES: Well, I think what they mean — I think what they mean is based on the facts that are in there, it’s not an illegal conduct.
The issue is whether there are more facts that would bring it under conventional law. As Michael says, this is an unusual case. This is the first time you’ve seen a case like this. I happen to think it’s no coincidence it comes out just at the time that the administration is going after the financial regulatory reform in Congress.
CHARLIE ROSE: Wait. You think the administration had some influence with the SEC in terms of bringing this complaint now?
DAVID BOIES: I think that there’s a climate in Washington that is — wants to show aggression in terms of regulation. I think that — that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
But I think you’ve got to be careful that when you bring an SEC complaint as opposed to bring a bill to change procedures or to add new regulations that you’ve got something that is improper under existing law.
And looking at the complaint, I don’t see where that is right now.
How does a religion teacher get an invitation to appear, in June, on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report? By writing a book saying that Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, and others have preached about the shared, benign beliefs unifying all great religions ”” and then dismissing that message as garbage.
Stephen Prothero’s God Is Not One, which hits bookstores today, argues that the globe’s eight major religions hold different and irreconcilable assumptions. They may all push the Golden Rule, as progressives like to point out, but no religion really considers ethics its sole goal. Doctrine, ritual, and myth are crucial, too, and on these, writes the College of Arts & Sciences professor, there is no meeting of the religious minds. For example, Christians who think they’re doing non-Christians a favor by saying they too can be “saved” ignore the fact that Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and Confucians either don’t believe in sin or don’t focus on salvation from it. (Hinduism, Daoism, and the African religion Yoruba round out the eight.)
The notion of “pretend pluralism,” as Prothero derides it, may be nobly intentioned, but it is “dangerous, disrespectful, and untrue.”
Two years into a merciless downward spiral, Antonio Moore was threatened with living on the street.
He had lost his $75,000-a-year job as a mortgage consultant, his three-bedroom house with a Jacuzzi, his Lexus sedan. He could no longer pay even the rent on his cramped studio apartment ”” not on his $10-an-hour part-time job as a fry cook at a fast food restaurant.
Faced with eviction, he was staring last month at the imminent prospect of joining the teeming ranks of the homeless. His last hope was a new $1.5 billion federal program aimed at preventing that fate. Within days of applying, a check for $775 was on its way to Mr. Moore’s landlord, enabling him to stay ”” at least for now.
Much like the Great Depression, when millions of previously working people came to rely on a new social safety net for their sustenance, a swelling group of formerly middle-class Americans like Mr. Moore, 30, is seeking government aid for the first time. Without help, say economists, many are at risk of slipping permanently into poverty, even as economic conditions improve.
Pope Benedict XVI pledged Wednesday that the Roman Catholic Church would take action to deal with the widening scandal over sexual abuse by priests, making a rare direct public comment on the crisis.
During his weekly audience here, Benedict told pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter’s Square that he had met with abuse victims during a recent trip to Malta and had “assured them of church action.”
“I shared their suffering and emotionally prayed with them,” the pope said, describing his visit on Sunday with eight Maltese men who claim to have been molested by priests as youths.
And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me.”
The Global South-to-South Encounter entered into its third. What does it mean for the Churches in the Global South to be a “Light for the Nations?
The day started with Archbishop Robert Duncan presiding at Holy Communion. In his homily, he reminded us that we, who are “deeply, truly and permanently loved” are truly free. We do not “go our own way” to find freedom, but we come to Jesus, the bread of life. Assistant Bishop Rennis Ponniah, led the Bible Study, sharing from Isaiah 42:1-9. Bp Ponniah emphasized the vital need for a fresh vision of the Church. The scope of the Church’s ministry has to include the bringing forth of God’s justice in society, by modeling covenantal relations and by teaching society the keeping of God’s moral law. The nature of the Church’s presence is as a servant to the world’s needs; Anglican ministers are not celebrities, but celebrants. Finally, Bp Ponniah once again reminded us to look to the Holy Spirit as the source of the Church’s power, to give us an indefatigable constancy to do God’s work every day.